Adler, Friedrich

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ADLER, FRIEDRICH (1878–1942), German designer of arts and crafts. Born in Laupheim, Southern Germany, Adler went to Munich to study at the Royal School for Applied Arts at the age of 16. In the world of Munich art nouveau Adler was especially influenced by the artist Hermann Obrist. In order to break with Wilhelminian traditions, Obrist propagated a reform concept of cultural policy and art related to the art nouveau movement. In 1902 Adler continued his studies at the newly founded Debschitz School in Munich, where he became a teacher in 1903. The aim of the school was to intensify the contact between artists and manufacturers in the applied arts. Adler taught the technique of working in stucco and of edifice sculpture. From 1907 to 1933 he taught at the Hamburg School for Applied Arts, where he was appointed professor in 1927. When he lost his position after the National Socialist takeover in 1933, Adler continued to offer private lessons to Jewish students. From 1935 he took an active part in the Hamburg Jewish Cultural Union (Juedischer Kulturbund). In July 1942 he was deported to Auschwitz and apparently murdered there in the same year. Adler's work was multifaceted and his creations and designs were shown in several exhibitions such as the International Exhibition for Modern and Decorative Arts in Turin (1902) and the world exposition in Brussels (1910). His principal fields of activity were handcrafted work and the design of furniture and metal objects especially made of tin. During the exhibition of the German Werkbund in Cologne in 1914 he met with universal approval for his concept of a synagogue building and for his Jewish ceremonial objects. The latter were fine silver objects in the style of art nouveau and were manufactured by the famous Heilbronn company for silverware Peter Bruckmann & Sons. Only a few of these ritual objects have survived, such as a magnificent Passover set made of silver, ivory, and glass from 1913/14 and an Eternal Light from the same year (both in the Spertus Museum, Chicago).


Spurensuche: Friedrich Adler zwischen Jugendstil und Art Déco (Muenchner Stadtmuseum (Catalogue, 1994).

[Philipp Zschommler (2nd ed.)]